The ancient woodlands of the mid Avon Valley and Dart, Salcombe-Kingsbridge, Avon, Erme and Yealm estuary fringes, along with intertidal rocky foreshore and mudflats associated with each of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) estuaries, are irreplaceable features.
The area’s estuaries provide important nursery areas for fish and shellfish species.
The AONB comprises 50% Arable and Horticulture and 29% Improved Grassland. The remaining 8% of the AONB, which spans 14 different habitat types, together with the 13% of the AONB that is Broad Leaved and Mixed woodland, supports the greatest biodiversity interest for the area. (Broad habitat classes of LandCover Map 2007).
Significant habitats include:
- Oak and wet woodlands
- Cereal field margins
- Mature species-rich Devon hedges
- Freshwater lagoons with marsh and reed beds
- Maritime grassland and heathland
- Flower-rich meadows and pastures including limestone grassland
- Maritime cliffs, slopes and caves
- Shingle and sand dunes
- Salt marsh
- Mud flats
- Sheltered estuarine waters
- Eel grass beds
- Rocky foreshore
- Coastal reefs
Large scale habitat improvement is being successfully undertaken in the mid Avon Valley by a partnership of organisations and landowners.
South Devon’s flagship species of cirl bunting and greater horseshoe bat are perfect examples of the need for well functioning mixed landscapes with intact, high quality hedgerow networks and small woodlands, organic farming systems and a mosaic of high quality, species rich, grasslands mixed with cereal crops. The area’s farmers and smallholders are vital to the future of so many of South Devon’s habitats and the species they support.